COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) today is launching a new initiative in the lead-up to the Fourth of July that provides Americans with opportunities to show their national pride and be part of the Olympic mission through "America Supports Team USA." This new fundraising campaign, which incorporates the tagline "Together We Win," celebrates patriotism and raises money to support Olympic and Paralympic athletes and hopefuls. By further emphasizing the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams' connection with USA around the most patriotic time of the year, the campaign will allow the USOC to continue to bring programming to communities throughout the U.S. and support more Americans who want to pursue Olympic and Paralympic dreams.
The campaign, which continues through Independence Day, will include public service announcements (PSAs) and print advertisements that will appear in media outlets including NBC, Charter Communications, CBS, Comcast and the NHL Network. NBC Universal is the broadcaster of the 2010 and 2012 Olympic Games and has agreed to support the USOC's campaign across all NBC Universal networks.
U.S. professional sports leagues have also extended their support of the initiative. In addition to airing the PSA on the NHL Network, the NHL is also supporting the initiative on NHL.com. Major League Baseball teams have also supported the initiative. Several teams will run the PSA at ballparks around the nation and Olympians and Paralympians will throw out ceremonial first pitches at several ballparks in June and July.
Olympians and Paralympians featured in the creative include Jeremy Abbott (figure skating), Tanith Belbin & Ben Agosto (ice dancing), Gretchen Bleiler (snowboarding), Meryl Davis & Charlie White (ice dancing), Shawn Johnson (gymnastics), Lisa Leslie (basketball), Trevor Marsicano (speedskating), Marlon Shirley (Paralympics track & field), Ryan St. Onge (freestyle skiing), Louis Vito (snowboarding), Lindsey Vonn (alpine skiing) and Johnny Weir (figure skating).
"The U.S. Olympic Committee is proud to be launching 'America Supports Team USA' as a way to partner patriotism and the Olympic Movement," said USOC Chief Marketing Officer Lisa Baird. "We hope this event will grow and become a rallying point for American fans of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams for years to come."
National Governing Bodies (NGBs) will also be heavily involved. "America Supports Team USA" will be featured at events such as the USA Swimming National Championships in Indianapolis, USA Track & Field National Championships and Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., and USA Volleyball's Men's World League and Women's Pan Am Cup in Miami.
"Achieving my Olympic dreams took a great deal of commitment and sacrifice and I could not have done it without the support of my friends and family, USA Track & Field, the U.S. Olympic Committee and USOC Corporate Partners as well as the support of our nation," said Bryan Clay, a two-time Olympian who took silver in the decathlon at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and garnered gold in 2008 in Beijing. "The money raised by the 'America Supports Team USA' initiative will not only help offset training and competition costs but will also allow more Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls to achieve their dreams."
How Can Americans Help?
There are a number of direct ways that fans can show their ongoing support for Team USA:
Partnership Support Makes It Possible
Team USA's Corporate Sponsor Family plays an integral role in each and every day of an Olympian, Paralympian and hopeful's training. Through the 'America Supports Team USA' initiative, Team USA Partners have created unique opportunities for activation beyond the 17 days of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
United Airlines will promote the initiative as well as a U.S. Olympic United Miles Donation program in their award-winning monthly in-flight magazine, Hemispheres, in addition to during their in-flight programming and Hilton Hotels will air the PSAs in guest rooms.
Where Does The Money Go?
Approximately 80% of the USOC's operating budget goes directly to Athlete Support Programs. Below is an outline of some of the Athlete Support Programs offered by the USOC along with a brief description of each program.
Direct Athlete Support
Athletes who have demonstrated competitive excellence in important international competitions may be awarded Direct Athlete Support dollars, which includes Tuition Grants. The USOC Sport Performance Team works closely with the NGBs to determine how these dollars are allocated.
NGB Support Programs
The USOC aids NGBs by supporting services such as investing in state-of-the-art technology, specialized coaching and providing additional training camps and competitions.
Operation Gold Awards are designed to reward athletes for top place finishes in a sport's most competitive international competition of the year. The award amount varies from $1,000 to $25,000 depending on the year, the athlete's place and/or finish at the Operation Gold competition and whether the athlete competes in a sport/discipline/event on the Olympic or Paralympic Games program or on the Pan American Games program. Team sports (defined as three-or-more athletes) receive funding for 1-6 place finishes in non-Olympic and Paralympic years, while individual sports (defined as one or two athletes) receive funding for 1-8 place finishes in non-Olympic and Paralympic years.
Additionally, in non-Olympic and Paralympic years, athletes who qualify for more than one award automatically receive the higher award. At the Olympic and Paralympic Games, athletes will be paid Operation Gold for multiple medal performances.
Elite Athlete Health Insurance (EAHI)
Each NGB receives, from the USOC, EAHI slots to distribute to elite athletes. Distribution of these EAHI slots is based on criteria that have been developed by the NGB and approved by the USOC.
Tuition grants are intended to help defray a portion of an athlete's tuition costs, and in doing so, encourage athletes to further their formal education in preparation for lifelong career goals. Grant amounts range from less than $500 to a maximum of $5,000 depending on athlete performance history and availability of funds for the grant. Approximately $70,000 is dedicated to this program annually.